Bluejays battle tough teams at Holiday Classic- Women’s Basketball Results

Taylor Deniston scores two of her 20 points in Saturday’s loss to Hastings College on Saturday. Deniston scored 19 points to lead the Bluejays to a 74-70 win over Valley City State on Friday.
Taylor Deniston scores two of her 20 points in Saturday’s loss to Hastings College on Saturday. Deniston scored 19 points to lead the Bluejays to a 74-70 win over Valley City State on Friday.
The Free Press

Slow starts put the Tabor College women into a hole in their two Holiday Classic games Friday and Saturday, but the Bluejays came up short against Hastings College on Saturday after pulling out an overtime win Valley City State on Friday

Hastings—Tabor got off to a slow start against a good-shooting Hastings team, but couldn’t sustain an impressive third-quarter comeback for a 68-60 loss to the Broncos.

The Bluejays maintained a 2-0 lead 3:30 into the contest before the Broncos kicked in with an 8-0 run fueled by two 3-point baskets. By the end of the first quarter, Tabor trailed 18-9. The margin remained the same at halftime, 30-21.

“We were really passive offensively,” coach Shawn Reed said. “It was like I had five people out there and they were all waiting for the other four to do something. You can’t play like that.”

As the third quarter began, Tabor looked like a different team. Taylor Deniston caught fire with aggressive drives to the basket, exploding for 10 points over 3:30 stretch as Tabor drew within 46-44 as the quarter ended.

Deniston started the fourth quarter with another basket, then added a pair of free throws to put the Blue­jays on top, 48-47. Kelsey Unruh then scored for a 50-47 margin with 7:50 to play. But Tabor appeared to fade just a bit, enabling Hastings to recover for their eight-point victory.

“Our slow start and our inability to guard the 3-point shot is what cost us the game,” coach Shawn Reed said. “They hit 50 percent from the 3-point line, which was the first thing we talked about in the scouting report. You have to try to take that away, and we didn’t do it.”

Both teams shot around 43 percent from the field. Deniston led Tabor with 20 points and Unruh added 17.

For Hastings, Anna Hig­night scored 15 points, Jodi Adkins added 13 and Courtney Hoag 12 as the Broncos improved to 14-2 for the year.

Tabor’s record is 10-5 as the holiday break ends. —DR

Valley City State—In a matchup of nationally ranked teams, the 17th-ranked Bluejays earned a 74-70 overtime win Friday over 19th-ranked Valley City State.

The teams battled to a 58-58 deadlock by the end of regulation, with Tabor’s defense limiting a Viking offense averaging more than 77 points per game.

“We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but if you play defense and rebound, that’ll help,” coach Shawn Reed said. “I felt like we played good defense and made them work for everything.”

After neither team scored for more than three minutes of play, Tabor built a 13-7 lead after one quarter, with Amber Bonham contributing five points, including a basket off a steal.

After an 11-5 Viking rally tied the game at 18, Kelsey Unruh and Tristen Leiszler contributed to a 6-0 Bluejay run. Tabor led, 27-23, at halftime.

When Tabor scored just two points in the first seven minutes of the third period, the Vikings took a 31-29 lead. After a Reed timeout, Tabor responded by scoring eight points in the final three minutes to regain the lead as the quarter ended, 37-35.

In the fourth quarter, the Bluejays led by as many as seven, 49-42, with 4:34 left in regulation. But a 16-9 Viking rally tied the game. Tabor’s final possession came up empty, sending the game to overtime.

“We ran a play, and they changed some things up on us and pressured a little bit, so we got a little bit out of sync and didn’t quite get the look that we wanted, but we didn’t turn it over,” Reed said.

In the extra period, the Bluejays trailed 62-59 with 4:10 remaining, then launched a 9-0 run aided by three-pointers from Taylor Deniston and Olivia Brubacher.

The closest the Vikings got after that was within three, and Tabor led by as many as 74-67 before a final 3-point basket by the Vikings.

“That’s like a game that you play in Sioux City,” Reed said. “Hopefully we’re both able to advance that far because I think we both have national tournament possibilities.”

Deniston led all scorers with 19 points, going 11-for-12 from the charity stripe. Kristyn Wedel scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Leiszler scored 11 points.